Mobile App Development for Truth For Life

The Challenge

Bible-teaching ministry Truth For Life, a nonprofit rooted in radio content, had 30 years of sermon archives they wanted to make available to their followers via a robust mobile app.

Truth For Life is the teaching ministry of Alistair Begg, senior pastor at Parkside Church. The organization had 30 years of sermon archives they wanted to make available to their followers via a robust mobile app. They also wanted to make Alistair Begg’s daily radio program, as well as a daily devotional and Bible reading, widely available for their audience to access whenever it suited them. The mobile app needed to give users the ability to search, browse, share, and listen to Truth For Life’s large body of content. It also needed to integrate seamlessly with the ministry’s website, including connecting profiles that users made in either place. Finally, it needed to have a date-based component to support the timeliness of the content.

Truth For Life had an existing app that was built from a template with limited functionality and only basic integrations. They also had a completely separate app dedicated to their daily devotional. With more than 300,000 users on these platforms already, they were quickly outgrowing the apps’ narrow capabilities.

The overarching goal of this work was to further Truth For Life’s mission “to teach the Bible with clarity and relevance.”

We’d worked with the ministry for years on system administration, web hosting, and website redesigns. This was a major initiative they were working on, but their previous attempts with other agencies had failed. Based on the strength of our relationship and the success of our past projects together, Truth For Life came to us with this important project.

Agathon consistently produces high-quality work, keeps their word, has a wide variety of skillsets as needed, and can be trusted with any details. I highly recommend them.

John Schwartz Digital Communications Manager, Truth For Life

How We Worked Together

Truth For Life already had a mobile app with hundreds of thousands of existing users. As such, we had to release an initial version of the updated app that was already packed full of all the features those users had come to expect.

To kick off the project, we spent an intensive day talking Strategy with the Truth For Life team in their Cleveland-area offices. We reviewed their list of proposed new features and brainstormed what the ideal mobile app would look like through the lens of their users. We created a product roadmap that day and used it to inform the Design by way of visual mockups.

Halfway through the Development process, we took a brief step back from the active work and weekly meetings with the Truth For Life team. We needed to see the forest, not the trees, and make sure we were building the mobile app we’d described in the beginning. In fact, we realized we were on nearly the same path as that first day, confirming the solid work we’d done in crafting our vision together.

We continued to iterate, and with each line of code and new iteration of the app, we stayed focused on our initial vision and design. We sent new versions of the app to the Truth For Life team every two weeks for testing. We started with a handful of internal stakeholders and grew that test team to 15-20 people as we got closer to launch. Incorporating feedback from a diverse team all along the way was a major project management feat; we credit this process for building a strong mobile app everyone believed in.

The Results of Our Collaboration

Truth For Life’s revamped mobile app improves on their old product with some key features:

  • User accounts are integrated across the website and mobile app.
    This allows users to do things like “favorite” sermons, with preferences that are saved across both platforms. User account integration also provides Truth For Life with integrated data. This gives the ministry a better sense of who is using the app, allowing them to build stronger relationships with their users.
  • Design and user experience are consistent with the website.
    The new app’s organization aligns almost directly with the website for a seamless user experience.
  • The new app includes an improved media player experience.
    The richer media player allows users to listen to audio content while browsing the app. This is hugely important for an organization with so much audio content.
  • Each sermon’s audio and video components are accessible in the app.
  • A full Bible text accompanies the app’s daily devotional.
    Using the full Bible feature, users can click to see each Bible verse that is referenced in the daily devotional.
  • A one-year Bible reading plan, complete with verses for each day, is included in the app.
  • Rich search functionality allows users to filter based on type of content.
    Because of the search they’d built on their website, Truth For Life knew users enjoyed being able to conduct searches specifically for sermons, devotionals, etc.
  • The app has built-in push notifications and messaging that allows Truth For Life to connect with their users in a timely way.
    It also has an inbox that archives all messages from Truth For Life.
  • The new app was built in one platform that functioned across iOS, Android, and tablet.
    Using React Native, our team was able to efficiently build a single app for all three platforms. This allows features to appear on all platforms at once and minimizes platform drift, where the app on one platform might diverge from the others over time.

When it was time to release the app, we did so in waves. This gave us the chance to learn from the feedback we received.

How It Worked

Truth For Life’s new mobile app allows the organization to teach the Bible in a fresh new way, with clear functionality and technology that’s relevant to their audience. It’s a dynamic tool that fully supports the ministry’s mission.